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Montgomery Co, MD 1745-1778 -- Home Base?

This page was begun on 17 March 2001and expanded on 18 March.

It should be noted that the area we are examining here changed jurisdictional control three times during the relevant time period.  In 1745 it was Prince Georges Co, MD.  Then control passed to Frederick Co, MD which was carved out of Prince Georges in 1748.  Finally control passed to Montgomery Co, MD which was created from part of Frederick in 1776.

Once again, we start with the tough question: Do we have any proof that the Ruggles of Allegany-Monongalia came from Montgomery County?


However, once again the circumstantial evidence is very strong -- strong enough that I am now about 85% certain that the senior Mason- Allegany-Monongalia Ruggles were born here. 

In Cumberland, Ruggles' neighbors and future in-laws were the Freelands and Plummers.  Plummers abounded in Montgomery County.  Aaron Freeland/Freeman (pa of 70001) himself is several times mentioned in Montgomery County records.  He, along with William (20000) Ruggles, was in the state Militia both in Montgomery and in Allegany counties.  Virtually all early Mason Ruggles marriages were with spouses whose family names are common in Montgomery County: Freeland, Plummer, Voires/Vires/Vears, Swearingen, Hardin/Harding, Wilson/Willson.

It is apparent that the Mason County Ruggles had strong ties to Montgomery County people, if not lasting ties to Montgomery County as a place ... I have never seen it mentioned in any family recollection.

The principal and first Montgomery County Ruggles we have found is James (100).  Frederick County records indicate that James Rugles reported custody of a stray cow on 7 December 1767.  When Montgomery County was getting organized as an independent county, they put together a list of all white, 21 or over, resident males.  James Roughless is listed in the Lower Newfoundland Hundred in that 1777 list.  On 28 February 1778 James Ruglass swore an Oath of Allegiance to Maryland before the honorable Edward Burgess -- Burgess himself and most of those who swore before him that year were also on the 1777 Lower Newfoundland Hundred taxables list.  He is not on any of the lists I have seen of those paying land taxes, quit rents or any other land-related payments regarding land.  I have seen no other Montgomery County records with any other name which might have been a spelling for "Ruggles".

He evidently died shortly after 1778 -- at least we have found no later records naming him although, as mentioned earlier, William (20000) Rugless is listed in the Militia in Montgomery County in 1780.  If James (100) were still alive, he likely would also have been so listed, although he might have been too old by then.  For now, my best guess is that he died in 1779.

On 9 December 1777 Mary Rugloss witnessed John Holmes' will.  John lived on his property in the Lower Newfoundland Hundred and the odds are better than 50-50 that Mary was James (100)'s wife, either a neighbor of or working in the employment of the Holmes family.

As we saw in "Into Kentucky", "First Siblings" and derivative pages, the senior early Mason-area Ruggles were likely born between 1755  and 1777.  The most likely hypothesis as of now, is that Mary Rugloss was their mother.

We don't know what who Mary was, but we have a guess.  At least one branch of our family seems to have remembered the family name "Brimmer" and attributed that family name to John (10000)'s wife.  This same branch of the family is the one which said John (10000)'s had a middle initial -- "B".  Now all else that we have seen indicates that John's wife was Elizabeth Voirs.  However, this could be a confused, vestigial memory of John (10000)'s mother's family name.

If John had a middle name, this would also explain the middle initial "B" because it was standard naming procedure at that time to name one's first son after his grandfathers -- taking the given name of his father's father as the first name and the family name of his mother's father as the middle name.

There was a Brimmer family on the margins of society in early Maryland.  According to Gust Skordas' Early Settlers, p. 57, James Bremer was transported to Maryland in 1678.  By 1687,  James Brimar [surely the same man] was granted a tract of 424 acres, in St. Mary's County, MD, which he named Weems.  According to Barnes' Maryland Marriages, p.20, Will'm Brimer [a son?] married Catharine Gaskin in 1712 in Anne Arundel Co. and p.200 in 1768 Fanny Brammer [probably a different family? or a great-granddaughter?] married Jno. Wooler in Baltimore Co, MD.  So far, we have been able to find nothing else about this family.  But Mary Brimmer (101) could well have been a granddaughter of James Brimar born before or about 1735 to a landless son who had come north into the area just north of present-day Washington, D.C. to seek his livelihood near the Ruggles' home base.

But, not owning land, where did the Ruggles live?  As best I can tell, in Lower Newfoundland Hundred, there were no cities or towns -- at least in the land tax list of 1783 which survives, no one is taxed for a store or anything that would suggest "urban" activity.  Most of the properties in the 1783 list include only one dwelling -- which presumably would have been occupied by the owing family.  Usually there was also a "tobacco house" -- presumably used for drying tobacco and not suitable for habitation.  On about some of the properties, there were "small old log houses" -- which presumably meant housing for slaves and indentured servants.  Only two of the properties listed "tenant houses" -- these two properties were both owned by members of the Beall family who coincidently were early relatives of mine.

There were 167 men on the 1777 "taxables" list.  If one compares that list to the 1778 "landowners" list one finds that 42 of were landless including James (100).  Presumably some were not married with families, but some at least were.  Where did they live?  

There are 151 separate parcels of land in the 1783 list.  Three of these parcels had 3 dwellings, 5 had two dwellings, 2 had "tenant houses", and 66 had only 1 dwelling (surely usually occupied by the owning family). Twenty four of those 1-dwelling parcels had no slave/servant housing, while 49 did.  Three parcels had only slave/servant housing with no other dwelling.

So there were 85 to 95 dwellings (maybe 5 tenant houses on each of the 2 parcels?) other than slave/servant quarters and 167 white men over 21.  Even considering extended families, housing was tight!  And the dwellings were not large, most were log, some frame and 3 of the largest were brick.  The sizes of the larger ones were listed by the assessor (an number in parens indicates more than one of that size): the brick ones: 36 feet x 24 feet, 32x32, 30x44.  The rest: 51x20, 36x18, 35x30, (2) 30x24, 30x20, 30x16, 28x28, 28x24, (2) 26x24, 24x24, 24x20, 24x18, (3) 24x16, 20x20, 20x18, (2) 20x16, 18x16 and 16x16 -- all others probably were smaller.

It seems most likely that the Ruggles were raising their family in a log cabin whose dimensions were less than 16 feet by 16 feet.

What did James do?

Owning no land, he might have been a tenant farmer, an overseer, a work-gang boss, or an artisan serving the plantation where he lived.  Presumptive son Jonathan (50000) was listed as a shoemaker in the 1850 census -- maybe he learned the trade from his dad??  Whatever James did the family must have lived very close to the edge and never were able to accumulate enough to buy any land.  A few of the holdings of Montgomery 1783 "land owners" were quite small -- 1.5 to 4 acres, although usually they held at least 50 acres and some thousands of acres.

Where did James (100) come from?  Click here to explore that.